What’s the saying? Rolling stones gather no moss? Unless you’re really into moss, you probably want to be the rolling stone of your industry. The game changer who takes risks and looks for new tricks to solve old problems.
Cold storage is no different. Thanks to breakthroughs in connected technologies, pro-social campaigns for a healthier planet and our ever-changing demographics, cold storage is as primed for innovation as any other sector.
Here are some of the ways you can stake your claim in the industry with forward-thinking.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Cold storage comes with unique challenges. Whether it’s medicine you’re hauling or perishable foods bound for a grocery store, it needs to get there under controlled circumstances and in a timely fashion.
As it has with every other time-sensitive task, the internet–specifically, internet-connected devices–is making the cold storage and mobile refrigeration game much easier to manage. The IoT is still coming of age, but it already presents an intriguing concept: a world where we have access to data about every step in manufacturing, transportation, and storage. You don’t have to take it for granted that your coolers and chillers are operating at peak efficiency–not when there’s technology available that can do it for you.
Using the IoT to gather data will let you change the game in a number of ways. First, you’ll be better able to combat waste, which sees 40 tons of food thrown away each year in India alone. Today’s developing nation is tomorrow’s industrial juggernaut, so it’s time to set a good example for all our sakes.
Beyond that, applying IIoT concepts to cold storage will yield all kinds of insights, including improved fleet and shipment tracking, fuel and energy use, inventory management, and, maybe most importantly, energy-efficient processes.
Energy-Efficient Technologies and Processes
There’s no excuse any longer to engage in processes that needlessly waste energy. Even though federal policy might be in flux at the moment, most of the world’s people agree: Preserving the planet for future generations and slowing our impact on the warming of the planet are common causes we can all relate to and invest in.
There’s a kind of poetry to slowing global warming by improving the refrigeration industry. So lend your support to this growing global consensus. It begins with the basics, like replacing your lighting with LEDs and other low-energy fixtures. From there, the sky’s the limit. You could commit yourself to running on all-renewable energy, like Apple has done with their data centers.
That was a big undertaking, but it’s easier than ever right now for small business owners to “green” their operation with solar installations. It’s great for your bottom line and it draws a line in the sand for climate advocacy.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
With very few exceptions, government regulations concerning the safe manufacture, packaging, and transit of foods and other refrigerated goods work to serve the welfare of the public. When conditions within facilities are less than ideal or actively subpar, that’s when regulation steps in.
FSMA–the Food Safety Modernization Act–was one of the more comprehensive efforts in recent years to make the cold storage industry safer. It actually touches on quite a few industries, but its intention in each one was to provide a set of reasonable guidelines whereby manufacturers and distributors could work to protect the health and safety of their end users.
That’s a fancy way of saying it raised the bar for quality assurance and attention to the finer details. Even elements like temperature controls saw a regulatory facelift when FSMA became binding.
What does this mean for you? It means it pays to keep your eyes fixed on the future. You can become a thought leader in the industry by adopting better oversight technologies before they become mandatory.
Recognize Younger Talent
Speaking of looking to the future: Have you hired a millennial today?
Establishment types want us to believe millennials have no idea how to run the world, but most of the evidence runs to the contrary. Millennials appear to be more emotionally intelligent than their elders, better able to tell fact from fiction, and better versed all around with information-seeking technologies. They’re also the most productive generation ever.
All of these factors combined mean that if you’re looking for fresh faces to help lead your company into tomorrow, you can’t do much better than a millennial. And with refrigerated storage eyeing 3.4 percent growth by 2019, this is the time to think about the future.
Building Up, Out, and Forward
Before we close, there’s another industry trend worth mentioning: build up, not out.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: You make industrial buildings taller to capitalize on vertical space rather than adding another colorless box to our urban sprawl. It’s one more way to make the most of our finite resources–chief among them limited living and commercial space in metro areas.
The point of all this is that you always need to look forward. Whether it’s new technology or fresh new ideas, cold storage is as ready for rejuvenation as the rest of America’s industrial identity. Stake your claim right now.
About the Author:
Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. When she isn’t writing, Megan enjoys hiking, riding her bike and watching movies with friends and families. Follow her on Twitter @nicholsrmegan.